DEMENTED PATIENT ESCAPES “SECURED” FACILITY

A 71 year-old resident of an “Alzheimer’s/Dementia Care” facility was hit by a semi-truck on the freeway and sustained massive, life-threatening injuries. She had been admitted to the facility by her daughter after repeated incidents of wandering from her home, staying out all night, and awakening cold, disoriented, and injured. She was placed in the facility because her daughter wanted her to be safe.

The facility used a key pad system to control its exits, but gave the code to all of its staff, residents’ families, and even some residents. The patient learned the code, let herself out of the facility, and after wandering for an hour or two, made her way onto the freeway where she was struck by the semi. Because the facility had ceased monitoring the patient, it did not know of her departure until the hospital advised the daughter of her mother’s injuries.

Since the daughter knew that her mother was in a “secured” facility and believed that there must have been some identity mix-up, she called the facility to confirm her mother’s presence. The facility only learned of her departure when it checked her room and found it empty. This was a case that involved both elder abuse and elder neglect and settled on behalf of the victim and her daughter.